Our Notes & References
The first large-scale evidence of the Holodomor with its first mapping, and the earliest work to accuse the Soviet regime of intentionally causing famine in Ukraine.
The publisher, ‘DOBRUS’, standing for the Democratic Organization of Ukrainians Formerly Persecuted by the Soviet Regime, functioned since 1951 as one of the first human rights organisations: it was created by former residents of the USSR in an attempt to document the crimes of the Soviet regime, uniting hundreds of victims of the Holodomor, the NKVD and other repressive instruments of the USSR.
Verbitskyi’s volume is remarkable as being the first substantial work to give both individual factual accounts of the survivors of the Holodomor from all Ukrainian regions and to voice accusations against the Soviet regime of deliberately causing the famine almost in the entire territory of Ukraine in 1932-33; the number of victims totalled at least 2 million.
During the Soviet era, the authorities persistently concealed the Great Ukrainian Famine, from prohibiting to write “famine” as a cause of death in the 1930s to spreading unspoken instructions on how to conduct counter-propaganda against the information about the Holodomor circulating in the West in the 1970s. Official Ukrainian authorities first started talking about the Holodomor in 1987.
A limited number of publications on the Holodomor was already available in the 1930s, including separate brochures in Ukrainian, but the contribution of the DOBRUS to the development and research of the subject is colossal. In the 1950s, the organisation worked on several publications to disseminate the evidence of the tragedy among the authorities of the European and North American states and international organisations. Verbitskyi’s book was published on the twentieth anniversary of the Holodomor, followed by a two-volume work of testimonies The Black Deeds of the Kremlin – A White Book (vol I in 1953, vol II in 1955) and several other works on the same subject by DOBRUS. The prominent documentalist Dmytro Solovey also published the first part of his book of the witness’ accounts of Holodomor, Stezhkami na golgotu… [Paths to Calvary] in 1952, though his main work on the subject, Holhota Ukrainy [The Golgotha of Ukraine] came out a year later.
The author of the striking cover is not specified: the design may have been commissioned by the diaspora from an English artist; the image was later reproduced many times, including at various exhibitions in the 1990s.